I had to rescue Liza last night, as her alternator went out at the tail end of her drive to school in Pleasant Hill. By way of compensation, I got a really nice dinner out of it. Why haven't I returned to this restaurant before now, when it's so close to her school?
The restaurant, which deserves to be full, was nearly empty, and we were made to feel very welcome. Being only a party of two, we couldn't exactly explore the menu, but we did pretty well:
Twice cooked pork. Firm, 1/4" thick slices of pork and cabbage and bamboo shoots in a dark, slightly sweet sauce. It sounds ordinary, but was fabulous -- how do they get cabbage to taste like this? I think the yellow bamboo shoots, surprisingly assertive, mellowed the more saurkraut-y aspects of the cabbage flavor. EXCELLENT
Steamed sea bass with ginger and scallion. I was pleased, and Liza was startled, that they brought over our bass in a bowl, so we could see how lively it was in its last moments. When it arrived, swimming in gentle sauce, with thin shreds of scallion and yellow chives, it looked perfect, and it was. Tender, the meat just adhering to the bone, and a special elusive flavor note -- yes, it was just a couple of points of star anise, lending a faint spice to this ethereal dish. EXCELLENT PLUS
Pea shoots with garlic. Fabulous green veggie, perfectly cooked. I suppose this isn't the peak of the season, the stemmy parts didn't have the tenderness they have when you hit the right moment. But still, it was great. EXCELLENT MINUS
And a dessert: spring rolls with sweet fried banana inside. I won't rate it, because Dr. Atkins restricted me to nibbles, but it was very tasty.
A very worthy meal at a restaurant that deserves more attention. Especially more of mine. Final tally was bout $46 before tip, presumably a good chunk of that being the fish.
Lucky Dragon Cafe
41 Woodsworth Ln
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